There are climbs,mountains and then there’s Mont Ventoux.A place of pilgrimage for many cyclists around the world.There's something magical about this place the surrounding villages,the pungent smell of lavender that adorns the surrounding foothills of Mont Ventoux.In this vibrant haze of ultra violet purple.The most delicious views as far as the eye can see of luscious green vineyards thats renowned in the region for the most mouthwatering rosé as well as the rustic stone houses.Where the local baker is busy baking his first batch of baguettes and pain au chocolate.Everything about Provence feels life giving the sunshine, the rich organic produce, the wines,the juiciest olives and olive oil they produce in Bédoin.Simply Magnfique!
Mont Ventoux has many heroic and tragic tales.It was first featured in the Tour de France in 1951 and has since set the scene for many epic battles,to capture one of cycling’s most prestigious accolades having a mont ventoux stage on your palmares.Not all battles end in victory.In 1967 on the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France,the British cyclist Tommy Simpson lost his battle 1km from the summit of Ventoux.Fuelled by a concoction of amphetamines and alcohol combined with the heat,caused him to start losing control and began zigzagging across the road before eventually falling over.But such was his determination to finish the stage that he ordered the team managers to put him back on his bike to continue the final stretch.He gained a further few hundreds yards before finally coming to a stop.The memorial sits 1km from the summit, a tradition for many cyclists to stop and show their respects and leave souvenirs to honour the great Tommy Simpson.
Mont Ventoux sits 1909m above sea level, the traditional ascent is from Bédoin.It has a mouthwatering 21.4km ascent with a average gradient of 7.6% and a maximum of 12%.We based ourselves at Mas y Olives,3km from the thriving village of Bédion.For places to stay I'd most definitely recommend La Garance or Mas y Olives.Both the hospitality has been absolutely exceptional,overly accommodating and believe you me when you’ve got 10 cyclists prancing on a small boutique hotel not every hotel in France can be as accommodating.Mas y Olives is based on a vineyard and olive farm which produce their own olive oil and wine.After a day of baking on the climb, coming back to your hotel and jumping into the pool to cool down whilst you sip on the estates rosé is heavenly.This place is also ideal if you are taking a partner and the kids whilst you go and attack some segments.The views from the bedroom are breathtaking as they provide you with a view of Mont Ventoux.
We start most climbs of this magnitude with a cafe stop.Our traditional espresso to provide an injection of fuel to catapult us up the climb.Bédoin itself is buzzing with cafes and bikeshops.We found a cafe with the biggest flat screen showing the Tour de France just to add some more motivation.
As we left Bédoin,theres a an official line across the road which marked the beginning of the ascent.The first 6 kilometres is glorious.Not to steep,just a gradual incline as you wind your way through these absolutely breathtaking views of vineyards,olive trees on a perfect summer's morning.The roads are pretty busy with cyclists as you’d expect.We would recommend starting as early as possible or early evening that way you don't have to deal with the beating sun or the streams of cyclists and tourist pilgrimaging up Ventoux.
As you go through the last village,you are greeted with a sign on the right col du Mont Ventoux.Its the official entering into the gates of hell,1km later the roads starts to ramp up.The forest section of Ventoux I find absolutely magical.I'd thoroughly advise doing this early because as the sun starts to rise,you get these glimpses of life from the sun appearing through the trees.You're on your own, in this blissful pain cave but its simply delightful.Just ahead lies a clear empty road,the sounds of the wind, creaking trees and your heavy breathing.As the road sweeps through the forest,you are into 8-9% territory with a few punchy ramps that take you into double digits.
As you immerse out of the forest you are greeted to the iconic chalet reynard straight ahead of you.This is the ideal mini pitstop if you want refreshments or 1km further up,is a fountain to grab water.Chalet Reynard is essentially the end of the luscious green forest and the start of the baron lunar escape.It's dry as you are now hit by the sun baking down on you as you attack the final few kilometres of Ventoux.The views to the left show the picturesque of region of Provence.The names on the tarmac signify the previous battle of honour to the lunar summit.In the distance,is the view of the weather station we are aiming for.
It is the most joyful of views that signify the end is near.1km from the top,is the Tommy Simpson memorial.I've carried a waterbottle all the way up the climb to leave souvenir to pay my respects and commemorate and honour the former world champion.I head down the stone stairs, jump back on my bike and give it all 300 metres from the top is the cameraman.I look down drop a couple of gears and give it full gas.As you come round the final bend,is the sign Mont Ventoux where everyone stops to take their selfie.I'm drenched in sweat but this feels more like drenched in glory ticking off another one of cycling most iconic climbs.